Written in 365 Parts: 33: Information Retrieval

They had spoken over a live comm on a few occasions, infrequently and with no discernible pattern except for some degree of importance or expediency. This could fall into either category. As always there was no visual communication, neither of them wished that, vocal only with heavy filter masking.

“This is very dangerous.” The justice officer sounded harsher than they wanted. The contact was not a person to make into an enemy.

“I appreciate that, I am aware of your preferences for subtlety, but we were given little choice.” The voice was terse but not annoyed.

The officer felt that they may have a slight upper hand for a change. Maybe the monkey played the tune today. “How can I help? If I can help?”

“We are attempting to close every last loophole in this rather regrettable incident.”

“I see. I am not sure why you need to go to so much effort. It appears as if you are drawing more attention to this matter. Had you left it alone there wouldn’t have been so much of a story and we could have dealt with things more carefully.”

“I agree. there was some initial panic caused by the coincidence of the initial Justice Robots and underlings who do not have an inkling of our capabilities. So there was some avoidable judgement calls. These will be dealt with in due course. For now we have managed to obfuscate a great deal but there are a number of minor, yet irritating, loose ends.”

“Those are? I do not have a great deal of time so be brief.”

“Of course. There is the matter of the k-tag.”

“Out of my hands. They have been placed under secure protection of the investigator and their legal.”

“Regrettable but we have other avenues to further in that regard. There were a number of potential witnesses. Vehicles that may have been in the area and similar, can you get a list of those?”

“Tricky. The officer in charge of that evidence is very careful and almost completely straight and reliable. I would have to burn several long term schemes and contacts to get that information.”

“Please do so, I will pay ten times our usual rates.”

“That is generous but I will need more. They are closely connected to the investigator and will be more careful. I also have placed one trace on them today for you so further observation will have a higher chance of being detected.”

There was a long pause, “very well. This one time I will allow you to bid upwards. Fifteen times the rate and no further negotiation.”

“Accepted. I will attempt to gain all the information they have. Is there anything more?”

“Yes. The investigator. We know they are formerly Judicial Special Tactical Forces, but they seem overly-competent even for that division. I would like all the information you can obtain. Including a list of all their known contacts inside and outside of Judiciary.”

“That might take some time. My initial sweep indicates they had some connection to the inner circles of the governing systems, Possibly even an Accord status or rank.”

“Really. That is more than what we have. How do you know that?”

“A chance comment from the officer they have a connection with here, Hooper. He said something at a poker night a few months ago. I only put the comment to the person when I viewed the trace. Do you know them?

“They have crossed our paths before and we were able to deter them. However that was at great effort and not entirely successful. Our records, and past involvement, indicate they are a potential great issue. Also that they have had a number of aliases. I would like all information on those as well.”

“That is quite a lot that you want.”

“We are paying you well. You would be wise to remember that you are well known to us and we expect results for our investment.”

The officer took a deep breath. “I may need options in case this gets too problematical.”

A pause, but not so long as the first, “there are always options. You are not the only resource we can use in Judiciary.”

The line went dead and the officer quickly checked the trace to make sure there was no hint of anyone listening in. There wasn’t any and all the monitors were green. That was excellent news and potentially brought their retirement forward by a few years. Though the final sentence carried a tone that sent a shiver down the spine. What was the other resource as it didn’t sound as if it were organic.

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